Give Yourself Away This Christmas

Today I helped my aunt make make magic happen. I was giddy as I drove to Grams house, knowing my aunt was on her way down from Wisconsin. She was brining with her a very special surprise. I was giggly inside like it was Christmas morning.

My Grams just celebrated her 90th birthday last month. I help her put out her Christmas things each year, and we both enjoy our (now) tradition of doing so. Even though she has several trees in her retirement home, she has mentioned how she misses sitting and looking at a tree. There is something magical about sitting and watching the twinkling lights and seeing the refection off the ceiling and windows; the glow of it by the drawing evening and the peacefulness it evokes as the memories of Christmases long ago swirl around it unseen.

My aunt decided there was absolutely no reason why she didn’t have a tree other than she hadn’t moved one with her here, and there was no practical reason to “need” it because there were several down the hall. Here’s the thing about that however… There’s no way to sit and let memories swirl as family members come to visit in the stillness of the light bathed tree, if only you can take time alone with it. My grams, you see, is the last of her family line. She is the oldest. She is our matriarch. She has watched everyone she knows go before her, all her siblings and extended family, as well as many good friends. While she knows she’ll one day be greeted by these cherished loved ones, well, she misses them. She misses the traditions, and she misses just sitting and looking back in time, to when she was a girl, anxious for Christmas morning to arrive, and to head out to Christmas services with her best dress on and proudly holding her daddy’s hand.

So this year for Christmas? This year we gave Grandma her memories. We gave her what she cherished most… a chance to travel back in time. Her time machine just happens to look a lot like a little three foot artificially lit tree decorated with special bows and shimmery balls and tinsel.

Christmas is not about what’s practical. Christmas is about finding out how to go about giving the one gift that seems impossible, and then finding a way. Christmas is about magic. It’s about love. It’s about giving. Christmas is based upon one very important gift.

God so loved the world… THIS world, that HE gave his ONE and ONLY son, in the form of a baby, so that He, GOD himself, would know exactly what it was like to breathe, live, crawl, walk, see, smell, love, and loose, just like us. He gave away His only child, to all of us, so that He could know us in a way He never could otherwise. He experienced everything this child, Jesus, did. He delivered unto this world a savior. One that would one day grow into a man so that he could CHOOSE to follow in His father’s footsteps and LOVE us enough, to give HIMSELF away, all so that we, YOU AND ME, might live… forever.

If that is not the ultimate gift, I surely don’t know what is.

Grace was delivered to the world, in the most unexpected of ways, through the birth of a tiny little child one long, lonely night, so long ago in Bethlehem. It is because of this ultimate and amazing gift that we now give gifts to each other, to celebrate the magic and, in some way, to say thank you for that beautiful act of such love from above.

Don’t get me wrong, I like receiving gifts, but oh, by far, it is my greatest joy to be the one finding new ways to creatively recreate magic… To spread the joy of Christ. In each act of giving, if given with the spirit of the first Christmas, a bit of that first holy night is reborn in each of us, as we give ourselves away.

May you be richly blessed over the holidays and remember, you are deeply loved by the One who created you.



Pain is meant to be felt. It means something

picI was going along, minding my own business, attending meetings, a family gathering for a final Thanksgiving meal, birthday celebrations for my husband and daughter, and working on a plethora of stuff when, BOOM! Suddenly the world came to a halt.

Getting up from the chair I had sat in to enjoy my beautiful turkey coma sent a stabbing knife through my side that took my breath away. A few more steps, more pain. Not muscular pain like a pulled muscle, or how it feels when you throw your back out, but something deep inside of me. A place that muscles don’t move and I couldn’t put my hand on to ease the sharp pains repeatedly that came wave after wave.

I explained it away for a few hours, as they came and went. I went to bed and tried to relax.  I was starting to fall asleep when suddenly I straight up with a pain that was undeniable. I’d had this before. Four times in fact.

“Oh please, God, no.  Not this. Please no.” I said aloud as my husband put his hand to my back and wished he could do something.  With that began a long battle of kidney stone vs the tiny passageway to my bladder, wherein I would finally rid myself of this beast of a demon rock.

Sorry, “stone” is a sweet round little pebble of a thing. Mine are built like torture devices with wicked barbs that hang off each side, mean and vicious, tearing up my insides the whole way down. I christen them “demon rocks” from here forth.

Thus began the battle that would steal away all my holiday ugly-sweater and white-elephant parties. It would steal away time for work and for doing normal mom things. It would steal away my sanity!

My kids can’t handle seeing me in pain. They worry and stress.  Such is the life of a kid who knows their mom has a real health issue that has held her captive in the past. I have an invisible illness stemming from my brain. It is too big for my skull and the squished part herniates into the brainstem. It’s called Chiari Malformation. This can not be fixed or cured. There is a surgery to ease the stress of the “squeeze” but unless you cut off the “extra” brain, it’s a problem. Usually cutting off pieces of the brain is not something you choose to do unless life is unlivable. So around here, the worry crops up in a way maybe other kids would let breeze over them. I made a mental note that no matter how bad it got, I needed to be the mom they needed me to be.

I would not give into a little piece of demon rock.  No way.

So I curled up on the couch and took medicine to help ease the pains, watched movies with my son who needed to snuggle because I was in pain. I laughed and chatted with my daughter about her day at school and listened long into the night when there were things that needed to be heard again later. I was on the same big red couch for my oldest daughter to come have a much needed heart to heart. There were times she was in mental pain, dealing with her bipolar, and it made my pain manageable. I wanted to take hers away, and I couldn’t.

It’s hard to put into words, but I somehow felt like bearing this one silently gave me more power, strength, and peace. Life is hard enough around our house without adding to it with physical ailments. No one wants to have me down again. Cant have me down. Those were hard days and the kids really sense them when they come now. That feels good and overwhelmingly bad to me. I hate that they know the hard things so well. I really hate that. I appreciate that they are so intuitive and sensitive and caring kids.

So this literal pain in my side made me feel like I could do it one more day and I dug into it and really rolled with it, and didn’t let it overwhelm me like in times past. It may help that it was passable too!  I’ve had surgeries for them when they block vs pass. I focused on the pain being a GOOD thing – a no SURGERY thing. Pain equalled a blessing.

I’m rambling, but I really felt something strong through this unexpected detour. Pain is meant to be felt. It has a message. A story, a purpose. It’s not always a thing to be loathed and avoided. It can build a person, and it can define a person. I refused to allow it to define me.

It was simply passing through. Life would go on. And it did. I even had some quality time with the kids.  🙂